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Diwali resolution introduced in US senate

November 16, 2012 03:52 IST

US Senators John Cornyn, Texas Republican, and Mark R Warner, Virginia Democrat -- the co-chairs of the Senate's bipartisan India Caucus -- have introduced a resolution to honour and celebrate the festival of Diwali.

"Diwali's message of tolerance, compassion, and the victory of good over evil resonates with the American spirit," said Cornyn, adding, "As Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, and others come together to celebrate this festival of lights, let us all be reminded, as Americans, of one of our most cherished freedoms -- the freedom of religion."

Warner, echoing similar sentiments said, "As co-chair of the Senate India Caucus, I am pleased to sponsor a resolution celebrating this important holiday for the Indian people and Indian-Americans here at home."

"India is the world's largest democracy, which makes our countries and our people natural partners. It is a relationship based on shared values, and its one I would like to continue to grow," he added.

The resolution titled, 'Recognising the religious and historical significance of the festival of Diwali', said, "Whereas Diwali, a festival of great significance to Indian Americans and South Asian Americans, is celebrated annually by Hindus, Sikhs, and Jains throughout India, the United States, and the world; Whereas Diwali is a festival of lights that marks the beginning of the Hindu new year, during which celebrants light small oil lamps, place the lamps around the home, and pray for health, knowledge, peace, wealth, and prosperity in the new year; Whereas the lights symbolize the light of knowledge within the individual that overwhelms the darkness of ignorance, empowering each celebrant to do good deeds and show compassion to others; Whereas Diwali falls on the last day of the last month in the lunar calendar and is celebrated as a day of thanksgiving for the homecoming of the Lord Rama and worship of Lord Ganesha, the remover of obstacles and bestower of blessings, at the beginning of the new year for many Hindus;

Whereas, for Sikhs, Diwali is celebrated as Bandhi Chhor Diwas (The Celebration of Freedom), in honour of the release from prison of the sixth guru, Guru Hargobind; and Whereas, for Jains, Diwali marks the anniversary of the attainment of moksha, or liberation, by Mahavira, the last of the Tirthankaras (the great teachers of Jain dharma), at the end of his life in 527 BC."

"Now, therefore, be it  And it was resolved that,
(1)  recognises the religious and historical significance of the festival of Diwali; and

(2) in observance of Diwali, the festival of lights, expresses its deepest respect for Indian Americans and South Asian Americans, as well as fellow countrymen and diaspora throughout the world on this significant occasion."

Meanwhile, members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus also sent out greetings on Diwali and also hailed the election of the first Hindu American Tulsi Gabbard, a Democrat, to the US Congress from Hawaii.

Congresswoman Judy Chu, California Democrat said, "Today, families across America and the world are celebrating the triumph of good over evil and light over darkness. Last week, we also celebrated the election of Tulsi Gabbard, the first Hindu-American elected to serve in the US Congress. Diwali observers add to the diverse and prosperous fabric of our nation, and I wish them all a Happy Diwali and Saal Mubarak!"

In a similar vein, Congressman Mike Honda, also a California Democrat and CAPAC Chair Emeritus, said, "Today, families in America and throughout the world observe the first day of Diwali, otherwise known as the Festival of Lights. Many Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, and some Buddhists observe this important holiday by lighting the Diya lamp, symbolising the triumph of good over evil and knowledge over ignorance."

"This year's holiday is made even more memorable with the election of the first Hindu member of Congress, Tulsi Gabbard, and the first Buddhist Senator, Mazie Hirono. Today, we wish our friends celebrating a Happy Diwali and Saal Mubarak," he said.

Hirano, now a Democratic Congresswoman from Hawaii's 2nd District, who come January will take her oath as the first Buddhist US Senator, said, "Families in Hawaii and around the world are joining together today to celebrate Diwali, the festival of lights honouring knowledge over ignorance and good over evil."

She said, "In this time of joy and reflection, I hope people of all religions can come together to recognise the common humanity that binds our many diverse communities. I wish all a Happy Diwali and a healthy, peaceful, and prosperous new year."

Congressman Gerald Connolly, Virginia Democrat also in extending his warmest wishes for a "joyful Diwali to Hindu-Americans in Virginia and around the world, noted that "Northern Virginia is fortunate to have a robust Indian-American community, and there will be many local celebrations.  As you commemorate the 'festival of lights,' which symbolises a lifting away of darkness, I wish you all the best, and I look forward to working with your community to further our shared goals."

Yet another California Democrat, Congresswoman Jackie Speier, also in declaring 'Happy Diwali' and 'Saal Mubarak,' said, "Here is to the celebration of the vibrant and colourful holiday that has been growing ethnically and culturally all over the world!"

She said, "Diwali is a time to reflect on our family, core values, and a new prosperous vision for our future. It's a festival that represents the celebration of light, a light that grows exponentially in each of us individually to grasp the meaningful beauties of our life."


Aziz Haniffa in Washington, DC